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BJP On Sticky Wicket In Bihar, Predicts Party's Internal Survey

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Ahead of the crucial September / October Bihar Assembly elections, an internal survey conducted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shows a sharp decline in popular support. The BJP's in-house survey claimed 127 seats for the party in what is expected to be a tooth-and-nail contest between the saffron party and the Janata Parivar, according to a Mail Today report. 

However, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) ally Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP) is wary of these numbers as inflated and has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take matters in his own hands, lest the balance could tilt in favour of adversaries.

The leaders of NDA have agreed that the BJP, being the largest constituent of the alliance, was entitled to have its chief ministerial candidate. In June, RLSP had passed a resolution in its executive committee meet at that Upendra Kushwaha's name be projected as the NDA's chief ministerial candidate.

For the Bihar battle, BJP president Amit Shah's crack team from Delhi will include state minder Bhupendra Yadav, joint general secretary (organisation) Saudan Singh and Union minister and Rajya Sabha member Ravi Shankar Prasad, who hails from the state.

With an eye on the numerically significant backwards classes in the state, the saffron party has constituted an other backward classes (OBC) Morcha. The party faces a united Opposition led by the ruling Janata Dal (United), OBCs and most backward communities constitute approximately 46 per cent of the population. S P Singh Bagel, a key OBC leader from Uttar Pradesh, will head the new Morcha and former MP Sudha Yadav will be its in-charge.

Analysts are of the view that the BJP's challenge has grown manifold in the wake of Lalu Prasad accepting Nitish Kumar as the chief ministerial candidate and sealing the deal with him for the polls. The JDU-RJD-Congress alliance set the stage for a straight contest between the so-called grand secular alliance and the BJP-led NDA.  

Political observers say the BJP has not projected anyone as the chief ministerial candidate for the election against the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in which the voters had the face of Narendra Modi on the front.

Even the hardcore party loyalists are not sure that the Modi magic would work in the Assembly elections in the manner it had worked during the Lok Sabha elections. His face is over a year old now. The party has met setbacks in Delhi polls and has performed poorly in some by-elections stealing the shine from Modi's face.

Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar are skilful in galvanising the voters in the hinterlands, which actually constitute the state's real battlefield. Sushil Modi, Nand Kishore Yadav, Ravi Shankar Prasad, most of the top BJP campaigners' clout is largely restricted only to urban areas.

The Bihar polls will see the BJP put to its first litmus test following the Lalitgate as well as Vyapam scandals. It would be tough for Amit Shah to deliver the state to prove BJP's credentials and Narendra Modi's authority. A defeat in Bihar will further dent Narendra Modi's image.